definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
35,392 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Ford Thunderbird engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford Thunderbird Owner Comments

problem #7

Oct 012015


  • 65,000 miles


I've owned my 2003 Thunderbird since it was new. It now has 65000 miles and is driven only 2000 miles a year, over the last 5 years. During this period, I have had all 8 coils replaced, one at a time. The first time was within the first 1000 miles. Generally it occurs while driving in traffic, being on the freeway or on local streets. The engine starts to misfire and not function. After the 3rd or so incident, I was informed that Ford recognized the problem and would honor the repair. The only problem with this, knowing of the problem, they refused to replace all at the same time. In other words, they would only replace when the coil malfunctioned, this now has occurred 8 times. Now my motor has failed and needs to be replaced. My understanding is that when the coil malfunctions the corresponding cylinder also is not functioning properly. Again, the car only has 65000 miles and has never been mistreated. The cost to replace the engine is almost $10,000. This motor is a Jaguar production 3.9 model. Done when Ford had a brief relation with Jaguar. To say the least, I am very disappointed with Ford and their lack of taking responsibility. By the way, when they replace the motor, the old coils will be reinstalled on the rebuilt engine.

- Bedford, TX, USA

problem #6

Oct 152011


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Thunderbird. The contact stated that the service engine warning light illuminated. The vehicle drastically reduced speed and hesitated on several occasions. The contact stated that the vehicle stalled. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, who was not able to replicate the failure. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer who indicated that the vehicle was not included in two manufacturer recalls that expired. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was not available.

- Aurora, CO, USA

problem #5

Jun 112013

Thunderbird 8-cyl

  • 34,958 miles
Car sputtered and misfired causing partial power loss and speed loss. Problem is ignition coils. Have now had to replace a total of three during two similar events. Two dealers failed to inform me of extended warranty on this known problem.

- St Charles, MO, USA

problem #4

Jul 102012

Thunderbird 8-cyl

  • 48,200 miles


I was accelerating to merge onto the highway at full throttle and the engine shut itself off. I pulled over to the shoulder and turned the ignition off and restarted it and continued to my destination. This has occurred several times over the last few years, and it is only getting worse and more frequent. Sometimes the limp home light (wrench) comes on. I must turn the ignition off and back on to make the car work. I have had all 8 coils replaced and this did not fix the problem and it still occurs today. I checked the codes and it did say it was a forced shut down. I unfortunately do not remember the code number.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #3

Mar 282014

Thunderbird 8-cyl

  • 37,000 miles
While making a U-turn in a culd-E-sac at 5 mph, the wrench light came on. I can only reach a speed of 40 mph now. I am afraid to turn the car off until I get home.

- Tempe, AZ, USA

problem #2

Jun 122012

Thunderbird 8-cyl

  • 17,738 miles
The first incident happened on 6/12/12 when the engine started sputtering and missing and then went into a "limp mode" and would only accelerate no more than 15 mph. After taking it to the shop they determined that the ignition coil on cylinder #8 was bad and replaced it for $270. The second incident happened 9/7/13 and left my wife stranded on the side of the road. After doing research on the internet, I found out that Ford had issued a 10 year/100,000 mile extended warranty for all 2003, 2004, and 2005 Thunderbirds to replace the defective ignition coils. Ford has recognized that this part is defective and is a safety problem, but since it has not been recalled, and I did not know about the extended warranty, they are charging me $1,200 dollars to replace 7 ignition coils. Looking at the Ford Thunderbird forums on the internet reveals that this is a common problem and should be recalled so owners can have them replaced, since Ford has acknowledged that there is a defect.

- Lafayette, LA, USA

problem #1

Jul 012010


  • 44,850 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Thunderbird. The contact stated that the vehicle sputtered and the check engine light illuminated on three occasions. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and independent repair shop after each failure to have the coils and spark plugs replaced. The repairs were covered under warranty. The manufacturer was notified and offered no further assistance. The failure mileage was 44,850.

- Springfield, OR, USA

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